The second sign of Starshine Way

The hole she is dugHave you ever noticed how humans tend to repeat things from the past, which didn’t work out the first time, hoping that somehow it will work out this time around? Well, that was my experience of trying to replace my Starshine Way sign. As I mentioned previously, at first I tried to order the sign again from Fun-Key Enterprises, because I really do prefer to give my business to a local Merritt operation if possible, to support this community. But my experience in the past was that it was very slow and painful to get a sign out of them, and this time was no different. So eventually I gave up and told Susanne and Tim I would get the sign made in Vancouver.

I googled Vancouver sign makers, and within a day I had communicated with a Vancouver company called FastSigns, received a quote, and placed my order (all online). The sign was ready the following week. It took less than 1/10th of the time it took to get a sign made in Merritt, but cost twice as much. It was worth the price to save the aggravation! However, the company provided an 8′ pole, round and shiny, rather than the 10′ pole I had requested. But they gave me some advice on how to install it securely. My friend Dorrie helped me pick it up, and she also gave me some good advice.

The first time around the sign was easy to steal because it was just placed in the earth. I hadn’t realized someone might want to steal it, so I didn’t think any type of sophisticated anchoring system was necessary. But this time, I came up with a steal-proof plan! At first I was going to fill an entire garbage bin with concrete, and set the post in that. But my sister Katherine—who has some experience with pouring concrete—and various other people—told me this would take a lot of concrete, and be a huge hassle. How would I get the water for mixing the concrete up to the place where the sign was, 1.5 KM from the house? Yet if I mixed it at the house, it would be too heavy to carry, and might set before I could get everything in place to plant the sign.

Another problem was that the post was entirely smooth, with no holes to cause the concrete to penetrate and grip the post. Dorrie suggested I drill holes in it, but I don’t have the right equipment for that. She also suggested I put cross bars through the pole, which would help set it in the concrete more securely. But again, I didn’t have the tools and supplies for that. Winter was coming, and I wanted to install the sign right away, but if I got all the suggested supplies it would mean trips back and forth to town and waiting until spring to install the sign. I didn’t want to wait because I’d already dug the hole!

So I ended up improvising a solution based on what I had on hand. When I dug the hole I’d made sure it was deep and wide enough to accommodate the garbage bin. (See top photo.) I had some Rocktite concrete that I’d bought for patching some holes in the cement floor of the barn. It wasn’t a lot—just two bags. So I would only be able to pour a few inches of concrete. I prepared the pole by sawing 6 slits in the bottom few inches, and inserted nails halfway into the slits. This would provide a bit of anchoring for the concrete to grip, plus it could penetrate through the slits. I set a smaller bucket inside the big garbage can, and hammered  9-inch nails through the garbage bin and into the smaller bucket, to attach these two firmly together. What a contraption!

Sign ready to plant--what a beauty!I put the sign into the smaller bucket. I was doing this job in my workroom/laundry room, so I used the parallel clotheslines overhead to hold the sign in place, tying the sign to the lines. (Finally, something convenient!) Next I poured the concrete into the smaller bucket, so it could create a deeper foundation than if I had just used the garbage bin. Some flowed out of holes in the bucket into the garbage bin, anchoring these two together. Then I poured sand into the garbage bin, around the edges of the bucket, so that no more would flow out. I was concerned that the concrete wouldn’t be deep enough, so I put some stones in the inner bucket to take up some space. Then I mixed the second bag of concrete and poured it all into the inner bucket. Voila!

I had about a 4-inch depth of concrete in the inner bucket, which was higher than the level of the slits and nails in the pole. It seems the sign was firmly anchored, and the bucket firmly attached to the outer garbage can. I left it all to set over night, planning to install the sign the following day… (To be continued)

This entry was first published December 28, 2008. I’ve made a few edits and moved it to the first page to help potential buyers know a bit of the history of the place.

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